November 5, 2009

BART program attempts to keep riders

Now that the Bay Bridge has reopened, the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is studying ridership data and feedback from new and infrequent riders, in hopes of attracting them to take public transit on a regular basis.

BART saw record ridership during the emergency bridge closure, suggesting that many Bay Area residents can take public transit when the bridge is out -- but for various reasons don't do so regularly under normal conditions.

On Wednesday, the first full day of the emergency bridge closure, BART began an online survey aimed at finding out more about those reasons, with about 1,500 people responding. Although anyone could take the survey, analysis will focus on the responses from first-time or infrequent riders.

Suggestions given in verbatim, open-ended comments for what would get people to ride BART more frequently included: expanding service, improving parking availability at stations, making machines easier to use, ensuring announcements and signage are clear, keeping trains clean and providing more police presence. BART will dig deeper into the statistical data from questions about trip origins, destinations and frequency.

"This data gives us great insight into people's decisions," said Steve Beroldo, BART principal research analyst "It will help us to address the concerns they raise and, we hope, eventually see more of these occasional riders become regular riders."

Some customers commented that the potential flip side of increased ridership is crowded trains and filled parking lots at BART stations, which in turn can deter people from taking transit. During the emergency closure many people made adjustments to mitigate those problems, but in the long term, finding funds to increase BART capacity will be important to meet future demand, according to the agency.

 

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